Articles Posted in Nursing Home Medical Malpractice

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medical malpractice wrongful death

Levin & Perconti Attorneys Assist Family In $12 Million Award for Failure to Diagnose and Treat Lung Cancer

A jury voted to award $12 million to the family of Doris Newberry after her death following a failure to diagnose and treat her lung cancer. Her family, with the help of Levin & Perconti attorneys John Perconti, Michael Bonamarte and Cari Silverman, were able to prove that the defendants — including family practice doctors Dr. Iza, and Dr. Jeffrey Lindahl of Alexian Brothers Medical Group, as well as radiologist Dr. Jeffrey E. Chung, of Radiological Consultants of Woodstock — failed numerous times to appropriately diagnose and care for Newberry’s cancer. As a result, she experienced pain and suffering and disfigurement, and an untimely death, which could have been prevented had her cancer been diagnosed following a 2010 X-ray which revealed a lung abnormality.

  • Iza saw Newberry several times between June 2008 and August 2010, including an August visit following a July 2010 chest X-ray that showed abnormal findings.
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The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights advocacy group out of New York Law School, has compiled a review of medical malpractice incidents and has publicly shared their findings. Entitled “Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers,” the briefing examines recent medical studies and investigations of both inpatient and outpatient groups and facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice organizations.

The data brings deficiencies in medical care into the spotlight, specifically the care Americans receive within hospitals. Below is a summary of information from the report our medical malpractice attorneys think is particularly informative and worth sharing. All data sources can be found in the CJ&D briefing. We have included the page number of the report that contains the source for each statistic.

HOSPITALS:

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When we or our loved ones are in the hospital we trust that proper care will always be provided. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A lawsuit was recently filed against a local hospital and doctor alleging that failure to provide adequate supervision and treatment caused a woman’s death. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County, names Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, IL and a doctor. The paperwork alleges that the facility failed to provide medical assistance and the woman fell, suffering severe head injuries. The woman died a month after the incident. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000 and is requesting a jury trial.

Fall Caused Serious Injuries

Falls can lead to very significant injuries, especially in the elderly. Falls account for thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms every year. Falls often cause injuries such as bruises, sprains, and broken bones, but they can also be the source of more serious injuries. In this case, the woman suffered a hip fracture and a head injury due to the fall. The woman was not properly attended to and it was during this time that she suffered the fall. The hospital should have provided proper attention. They allegedly failed to properly assess her condition.
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When reading about the case against Dr. Michael J. Reinstein in Chicago, most community members understand in general terms what was going awry. All medical decisions, whether at the hospital, nursing home, clinic, or elsewhere need to be made with the best interests of the patient in mind. When other factors influence the decision (i.e. money), then the process has broken down.

But how does this sort of conduct implicate legal issues? In Dr. Reinstein’s case he is alleged to have over-prescribed a certain dangerous medications for his own personal gain–he was paid by the makers of the drug to push the product. But, it isn’t as if the Doctor intentionally harmed patients, and in certain cases the patients may actually have benefited from clozapine. Most understand how incredibly inappropriate and potentially harmful this conduct is, but the legal underpinning of the lawsuit related to these issues is less well known.

False Claims Act

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Medical care is expensive. Insurance costs alone are a large part of many family and business budgets. State and federal government budgets are no exception, as virtually all budget shortfalls are connected in one way or another to extensive spending on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Policymakers have long-been considering ways to cut those costs.

For example, in recent years there has been a crackdown on improper billing and fraudulent actions by providers of healthcare and support services. To combat the problem, lawmakers passed the False Claims Act. This law includes many different provisions aimed at minimizing Medicare and Medicaid payouts that are not necessary. According to some estimates, in the last three to four years alone, the U.S. Justice Department has been about to recover over $14 billion in funds that were paid out unnecessarily.

The vast majority of those reclaimed funds were received via one particular method allowed by the False Claims Act. The law includes qui tam provisions, which is essentially an incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and share information about fraudulent actions of which they may have personal knowledge. All told over $10 billion of the $14 billion total in recovery in recent years has stemmed from these whistleblower lawsuits by former employees of hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities where fraudulent billing might take place.

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Healthcare costs are a hot topic these days (and everyday for the past many years). At one point or another virtually everything under the sun has been blamed for rising costs-from lack of insurance to lawsuits. Unfortunately, receiving far too little attention are the incentives of medical care providers themselves to ensure that prices go up and the quantity of medical care provided is as high as possible.

With pay per service medical care, there is an incentive for medical facilities to provide more can than a patient may need in order to receive payment for that care. This is not a condemnation of medical providers but a concession to the obvious reality that when a business is paid to provide a service, the business has incentives to increase the need for the service. When it comes to medical care, that means increase the need for certain treatments, tests, procedures, or other care.

Because of that inherent situation, it is critical for observers to put systems in place to prevent abuse of those financial incentives. Taxpayers are ultimately the ones who foot the bill for much medical care (via the Medicare and Medicaid programs), and they are the ones who suffer when medical facilities violate rules and take more in payments than necessary.

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With all of the headlines about mass dysfunction in federal politics and the endless deadlock, it is easy to become disillusioned about the process. Yet, for that very reason, it is important to share information about those times (perhaps too few and far between) where bipartisan effort does work to pass needed reform. That was recently evidence by the President’s signature on a new piece of legislation that may affect all those who rely on Medicare support and who may be harmed by the misconduct of others.

The SMART Act

The head of the American Association for Justice recently shared information on the passage of a bill known as the SMART Act. It stands for Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act. In general, the bill changes the operation of the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) system to make it more streamlined and efficient.

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The UCLA Newsroom reported this week on a new clinical study that took a look at how the development of pressure sores at hospitals ultimately impacted the patients who developed those sores. As blog readers likely know, these pressure sores are serious skin breakdowns that often affects patients in hospitals and residents of nursing homes. Also known as pressure ulcers or bed sores, these injuries are almost always preventable with proper care. Re-positioning, grooming, hydration, and proper nutrition are also key components of keeping patients healthy in this regard.

Pressure Sore Consequences

This latest research effort suggests that there is a direct correlation between the development of pressure sores and increased hospitalizations and patient deaths. In other words, these sores are not minor problems that cause inconvenience to patients–they are serious. It is critical that all healthcare providers treat them as such.

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One of the greatest organizational problems facing hospitals today is the battle over medical records. Many patients find that it can take months or years to get a hold of their own medical records after treatment. Even worse, some families of victims of medical malpractice or wrongful death have waited for years to obtain their loved one’s medical records from hospitals. Often, lost or missing records are simply part of hospital error and not a deliberate attempt to delay, but on some occasions hospitals may frustrate a patient’s records request purposefully. Patients and victims’ families must be aware that statutes of limitation often require that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed within a certain period of time after the injury occurs or is discovered. This means that patients and victims’ families must decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and contact their medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible and begin the medical records request process.

Read more here.

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By 2030, one of every five Americans will be over the age of 65 and nearly half of all medical care spending will go to seniors. However, the US health care market is not positioned to meet the needs of this ever expanding group. The consequences of an understaffed and under-trained geriatric health care workforce could mean a sharp increase in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits and medical injury lawsuits in the future. A recent article highlights the shortcomings of the geriatric health care system, noting that doctors who serve senior patients make less than their internist counterparts and that geriatric specialists have decreased in number by nearly 25%. To meet the new demand for geriatric health services, the US needs to add 3.5 million people to the geriatric health care workforce in the next twenty years. Without necessary staff and salary increases, seniors could face tough choices in selecting a quality health care provider and avoiding injury in the doctor’s office.

Read the full article here.